Divorce Deprivation | TMOHP 002

If you want to create freedom from overeating and peace with food, you have a puzzle to solve. Slapping on willpower doesn’t create lasting change - it only sets you up in a lasting battle to maintain self-control - and who wants to make this your lifetime mission?

Creating lasting change with your eating habits and your relationship with food begins with addressing your mindset - your thoughts and beliefs about the way that you talk with yourself about a number of things. The tricky part about mindset is that it can be hard to see. Our way of thinking is so familiar that it can simply feel like TRUTH. But thoughts are not facts. They are just thoughts.

Today I want to take a deep dive into a very common mindset issue for smart, busy women who overeat or who are stuck in patterns of emotional eating. And that’s deprivation thinking. Listen to the episode to get clear on what this is - and what to do about it.

What you’ll learn in this episode:

  • Why it’s important to transform your mindset if you want to end habits of overeating or emotional eating
  • What it means to divorce deprivation
  • Signs that you are probably living in deprivation mode (and the consequences you’re probably experiencing)
  • One reason you may be feeling unmotivated and burnt out and tired of trying to change your eating habits
  • The power of creating transformation instead of relying on willpower and the difference between deprivation and transformation strategies

Listen to the full episode:

Featured on the show:

Full episode transcript:

Hello, hello! How are you? I am feeling bright and I'm feeling optimistic this morning. It is a beautiful, late summer day here in the Pacific Northwest. And just got back from a run at the air outside has that, that quality that happens at the end of the summer, where it's beautiful and sunny and warm, and you know, it's going to be a gorgeous day, but it also has that crispness underneath it. I don't know how else to describe it, but you know what I mean, that feeling where you can just tell that fall is on the way and fall is one of my favorite seasons. I like the start of all of the seasons, but fall just has this feeling of crispness. And I don't know, it's maybe it's the back to school thing, but it just has this feeling of a new beginning or a fresh perspective, which is also what I want to talk to you about today.

Overeating and emotional eating, even though you probably believe this in your head, and maybe you've told yourself this over and over again, but these aren't patterns that you dissolve by slapping yourself on the wrist or giving up sugar, or just declaring to yourself that you know what, from now on, I am not going to enter the kitchen after 7:00 PM. If you want to create real freedom, freedom from overeating, then it means that you have a puzzle to solve a puzzle that involves understanding the reasons that food has the power that it does in your life. And then taking deliberate steps to create a better relationship with food, have a relationship with food that actually works for you. That is how you end struggles with food instead of constantly fighting to control your struggle with food. That's how you end them. And we could probably end the podcast right there because that's really important.

A key piece of ending those struggles is what I'm going to talk to you about today. So let's talk about why it is so important to transform your mindset and do something that I call divorce deprivation. If what you want is to leave battles with food and maybe even the scale behind you. So if you write anything down today, write this down, create transformation, not deprivation. See the problem is that when it comes to changing your relationship with food and tackling over eating and emotional eating, you have probably been conditioned to think in terms of deprivation, not transformation. And these are two incredibly different sets of thoughts and beliefs, which will lead you down two extremely different paths, different sets of thoughts, which lead to different sets of feelings, which lead to different motivations and are, which are ultimately going to give you very different results.

Here's the thing. What if I told you that most women who want to stop overeating or lose weight, start by focusing on something that is automatically demotivating automatically kills your motivation and your momentum and your inspiration is energy zapping and leads to burnout and poor results that my friend is deprivation thinking deprivation thinking, let me give you some examples, because I'm going to guess that if you have been around the block a few times with struggles with overeating or emotional eating deprivation may be so much a part of your mindset that you don't even know. It's there. Deprivation thinking is thinking about what you quote, unquote, have to eat or should eat deprivation thinking. And a deprivation mentality is when you focus on going without, or when you focus on what you won't do or what you can't eat deprivation thinking is when you are feeling confined by rigidness, by rules, by a plan that requires things like constant vigilance or willpower or discipline self-control deprivation thinking is reflected.

When you have a plan where the only options are good days or bad days. So here's the thing about deprivation mindset. It's based on scarcity, not abundance, it's reactive instead of proactive or purposeful. So what that means is you are always waiting for the other shoe to fall. You're out, you're, you're guarded against things going on. You are in reaction mode and reaction mode. What I won't do, what I can't do, what I need to watch out for what I need to be careful of what I need to count or monitor or track that kind of reaction mode requires vigilance and being on guard. Because like I said, you're on guard or you're being protective about something that could go wrong. And being in that mindset all the time leads to feeling out of control feeling or, or feeling tired of being in control all the time, feeling stressed, feeling deprived, and ultimately a deprivation mindset and a deprivation approach to tackling overeating and emotional eating leads to burnout.

I want to get really clear on what a deprivation mindset looks like and feels like, and how it shows up in people's lives. Because again, this is something that we get taught to adopt when it comes to, I have air quotes here, managing your relationship with food or changing your relationship with food. You get taught to approach food from a deprivation mindset. And so most of us don't even know that this is a choice or that this is a way that we are thinking what happens over time with a mindset. If you, if you don't step back or know how to step back and take a look at it, it doesn't feel like a mindset. It doesn't feel like a set of thoughts or beliefs that you can change. It just feels like the way things are. And when you feel like that is the way something just is, that is a recipe for feeling powerless.

And that is a recipe for being in reaction mode because here's this set of circumstances. You know, I need to be in deprivation mode if I want to make changes with food and with overeating. And I need to react to that. I need to react to things from a place of deprivation. It doesn't need to be that way. So part of what I'm doing in this episode is getting really clear on what a deprivation mindset is. So you can see it in yourself. And then we're going to talk about what it looks like to do things differently. So what does a deprivation mindset look like when it comes to overeating? You probably are coming from a place of deprivation. If you're worried about blowing it, or you're worried about screwing up, ruining it right now, I've blown it. I've, I've got to start over again.

You're probably in deprivation, if you feel restricted or confined. And if you have this sense of wanting to rebel and eat everything in sight, because you don't like what it is you feel like you have to do. You are probably in the midst of a deprivation mindset. If you feel like you are twisting yourself up like a pretzel, trying to fit somebody else's rules or trying to follow a plan. And it feels really, really hard. And really if you stopped and thought about it, you'd know it doesn't fit. You deprivation thinking is showing up when you feel concerned that you're not going to be able to keep up, or when you're wondering, how long can I stay with this plan? How long can I be strong? Those are deprivation based thoughts. And you've got a pattern of deprivation thinking in a deprivation approach going on, for sure.

If you have felt like you're in a cycle of trying something new, running out of steam, telling yourself, you don't have enough discipline beating yourself up for it. The whole thing falls apart because you can't stick with it. And then you feel like you've slid back to the beginning and you need to start over. Again. All of these things are signs of being stuck in a deprivation mindset, which means having thoughts and beliefs that you have to deprive yourself. You have to be less than and do less than to be successful. And there, these things are also probably signs that the approach itself that you've been trying to use is one that is based in deprivation and overly rigid. And ultimately isn't going to be helpful. Here's the thing. Deprivation is no way to live. Think about it. Do you really want to base your life and the rest of your life's relationship with food on a plan that requires deprivation and willpower and being strong deprivation never leads to lasting changes, especially with overeating and emotional eating.

So if you are somebody who is used to coming from a place of deprivation and using a deprivation mindset to make changes, then the temptation at this point is actually, it's kind of funny because we all do it. But temptation is to use deprivation thinking to try to get rid of deprivation, right? To slap yourself on the wrist and say, oh my gosh, I've been doing that deprivation stuff. I need to knock it off. I just need to stop doing it. But there is a much better path forward when that actually feels good. And that actually, instead of burning you out and leading you to feel more tired as you do it, a path forward that can build momentum and build positive energy. Every time you take action on it. And that is the path that I call the transformation path, the transformation approach feels and looks so much different from a deprivation mindset.

In fact, it is so different that your brain, if it's used to functioning in deprivation mode, when it comes to thinking about choices with food and how to change your eating, your brain may not know how to deal with this, right? Your brain may just like roll its eyes and lay down because it just doesn't understand how the heck you're supposed to do this. That's okay. Today. I want to introduce you to the transformation mindset. I want you to start to recognize where it exists and where it doesn't exist in your life. And start to be open to the idea that if you have been stuck in vicious cycles, if you've been stuck in patterns with food and eating and emotional eating that aren't working for you, the possibility of doing it differently instead of running harder and harder on the same hamster wheel that isn't getting you anywhere that possibility exists here is what a transformation approach looks like.

You are using a transformation approach when your plan and your choices with food and what you're going to do about food and your eating are proactive. They're thoughtful, they're intentional, they're purposeful. It's not something you have to do or should do, or feeling forced to do, or no. You need to do their choices that you are making. You're coming from a place of transformation. When you've got a clear goal to transform whatever situation you have, that's triggering overeating. You're, you're working at transforming that situation. So that the reason you want to eat is addressed not suppressed reaction mode and deprivation thinking tends to just push away the reasons that you're overeating and tell you not to do it. A transformation approach is when you create this goal of, you know, I'm going to do something about these reasons so that I can take care of the reasons so that I get to take my power back from food.

So a transformation approach is not about quote unquote ending bad habits, but it's about finding new strategies that work better, um, strategies that fit you, strategies that improve your life and help you get what you want so that you're not using food and eating or mindless eating or stress eating, or any kind of eating to fill in the cracks or push things away, or make up for what you really need that you're not getting. So a transformation approach and contrast to that whole deprivation mindset and way of doing things. A transformation approach actually creates confidence and creates more success. It feels good. You're taking care of the root cause. You're being purposeful about the changes that you're making and you're feeling better and better. The more you do it instead of more tired and more burnt out and wondering how long you can be strong or have enough discipline to keep going.

Let me give you some signs that you are coming from a place of transformation or you're approaching things with a goal of transformation. Instead of deprivation, you are in the transformation space. When you feel like you have more options, when you feel like what you're doing is creating freedom and not restriction. If you're feeling empowered by what you're doing, if what you are doing is leaving you feeling more confident and stronger rather than like you're holding on for dear life and wondering how long you can do it. That's a sign that you are in a place where your thoughts are aligned with transformation and you are approaching things from a place of really transforming your relationship with food. Your actions in a place of transformation should be creating more ease. It should be making your life easier, not more stressful, because remember you are approaching your overeating by looking to transform the things that are triggering it in the first place or looking to transform the way you approach the things that are triggering it in the first place.

One of the things that participants in my group coaching program often say is they know that they've gotten in the groove with this whole transformation piece when it feels like they're moving forward and growing and succeeding, and it feels good. And often they'll say, you know what? It's so it's, it's surprised that it's like easier than I thought it was going to be. I thought I was going to be struggling and working really hard and having to really have some grit to be doing this. And this is feeling really good. So there's this positive cycle that gets created. And that starts to grow when you're in a place of transformation. And when you're approaching things with this philosophy and mindset of transfer transformation, your energy is increasing. Your enthusiasm is increasing. Your motivation is increasing every time you move forward. And that leads to an organic kind of momentum that just doesn't happen when you are struggling with overeating and emotional eating.

And you're trying to apply this deprivation. I just will be strong and not do it approach. Here's some more signs of transformation thinking and a transformation approach to overeating. Let me warn you about this. If you have spent a very long time, as most of us have at some or another, if you spend a very long time in a deprivation mindset, if that is the only approach to changing your eating that you have ever known, then one another diagnostic sign that you are in a place of deprivation is that you're going to catch yourself, rolling your eyes. As I described this transformation stuff, because from a place of deprivation, the idea of creating real transformation in your relationship with food, it seems impossible. It is, it is so different from that idea that I just need to be tough. I just need to be strong.

I'm going to struggle with this forever. All deprivation thinking transformation is so different from that, that your brain is going to have a really hard time wrapping itself around this idea. And it may even seem like this is crazy and impossible and nothing you can ever achieve. And that's okay. Because part of learning how to shift your mindset is first opening the door to the idea that a, you have a mindset you're that deprivation is not a reality. It is a choice that there are, and be there. There are other options that you can start to move in a different direction than the direction or the hamster wheel that you've been running on. So more signs of transformation. You are in a place of transformation. You are transforming your relationship with food. When you're growing in positive ways, you are not focused on fixing a problem, but on growing and strengthening solutions, right?

Because you're looking at, oh, these are the reasons that I've been eating. These are the things that are triggering over eating. These are the feelings that maybe I need to get some help with, or these are the places where I could use some assistance in growing new strategies. I'm going to get stronger in those areas so that I'm not so reliant on reaching for something to eat anymore. The strategies that you're using in a place of transformation are ones that fit you, or you're working to make your, your plan or your, your approach fit you better. Instead of that idea of contorting yourself like a pretzel, trying to fit it fit in trying to be rigid and, and fit into a deprivation model. A huge sign of a transformation approach is that you don't have to be perfect. Guess what? You're not, we're not, none of us are our, and we're never gonna get it perfectly.

But a deprivation approach really requires perfection. It's all or nothing. You're really on track or you've blown it. You are moving towards transforming your relationship with food when you've accepted the idea or you're working on accepting the idea that you don't have to be perfect. You get to be curious about why certain things don't work or why you didn't work on certain things and make adjustments as you go on. So you're using your wisdom. You're connecting with yourself and your own inner wisdom to be curious about what works and what doesn't work, and then to create the next step that works for you. This is how you transform your relationship with food, and this is how you create real lasting change. So another landmark of a transformation mindset and a transformation approach is that it's not just the end goal. That feels good. The path itself is enjoyable and actually creates joy and ease in your life.

Peace with food and freedom from overeating, they transform your life. They make things easier. They do not weigh you down or stress you out or make life harder. That's what diets and deprivation do. And that is why it is so important to start working on and thinking about and shifting toward divorcing deprivation descriptions are great, but let's get down to the nitty-gritty. Let me give you a story that I'm using with permission, from someone that I have worked with. Let me describe how this shift from a deprivation mindset to a transformation mindset, how that can show up what that looks like and what that can result in. So the client I'm going to tell you about today. Somebody I worked with a few years ago and I'm using her story with permission. However, I've changed her name to protect her privacy. So for the purposes of this podcast episode, we're going to call her Marianne Marianne.

When I first worked with her was a 50 something, 50 year old owner of a business that was growing. It had really taken off. Actually it was very successful, um, and was taking more and more of her time. And at the time I first met Marianne, she was overwhelmed. She was stressed. She was pretty irritated with herself, actually pretty frustrated with herself and had put on 30 pounds that she was not happy about nothing. She tried to do to make changes with her eating or with the scale was working. She had kids that were leaving the nest. She had a marriage that was important to her. She had this business that was taking up more and more of her time. And she really was feeling like, well, talk about reaction mode. She was very much feeling like her life was running her and not the other way around.

One of the things that I remember her describing to me was that her life just felt like it had become managing these to-do lists. These never ending to-do lists that actually not only, never ended, but they overlapped. And it felt like she was just running around, taking care of everybody else. Everybody else's needs everybody else's priorities, her employees, our clients, her husband, her kids, and she didn't have the time or the energy to think about what might be good for her, let alone the time or energy or space to actually act on it. And so what she had created, and this was actually fairly new in her life. She had picked up this sugar, sugar craving and the sugar habit. She was buying candy and she was just kind of grazing on it nonstop. And that was where she saw that extra 30 pounds having come from, as Marianne described it to me, she said, you know, I'm just constantly eating.

I eat in my car, I have this candy and it kind of SU this me as I'm driving from one obligation to the next, she said, I hate eating in my car. I am not a fan of this. I don't like the behavior, except that it feels like this tiny sliver of escape. It's the only thing I can do for me while I'm driving around taking care of everything else. So this is a great example of a deprivation cycle. Marianne felt stuck and she was in the cycle that she could not make herself stop. She was trying to use a deprivation mindset and deprivation strategies to stop it. She wanted willpower. She wanted self-control. She wanted it yesterday. And she was so mad at herself that she could not create that she wanted to feel energized. She wanted to feel healthy. She was also frustrated with herself because she felt so exhausted and stressed.

And she was actually noticing a lot of irritability and she didn't like that in herself. And that was making her matter and more frustrated with herself and also exacerbating the, eating, the stress, eating, and the eating to not think about it. And the eating out of frustration, which was, you can see the vicious cycle there, or you can hear it. Hopefully it, it wasn't getting her anywhere. Maryanne's default mode was deprivation. Her default approach to making changes was to just do the hard thing. She was tough and she was used to being successful. And when she wasn't, her mindset was to work harder, be stronger, do more, be tougher. Marianne was absolutely stuck in a deprivation cycle that I'm sure a lot of you recognize it was exhausting. Her, it was leaving her stressed and overloaded, and it was also leaving the exhaustion and the stress and the overload unaddressed.

And because of that, the more she pushed, the more she got mad at herself, the more she told herself to do more and try harder. The more she was burning herself out, Marianne was feeling unappreciated. She was missing rewards and fun and comfort in her life, but there was no room in her thoughts. Her thoughts were constantly telling her that there was no room for these things and that she just needed to squeeze these things out of her life and keep going and just do it and be tough. One of the things that you are probably hearing is that another feature of the deprivation mindset is that it is really hard on you. So not only did Maryann not feel like there was time or space for taking care of herself, but she also didn't feel like she deserved the nice things. She didn't deserve the rewards or the comfort or the soothing until she got tough with herself until she quote unquote got her weight under control until she was, was more strict with herself with her eating Marianne was absolutely on a hamster wheel, focusing her efforts on being tough on herself and trying to eat less, not addressing the reasons that food had the power that it did in her life and absolutely not creating transformation in her life.

Marianne knew that this deprivation approach wasn't working, she just didn't know what to do instead. So here's how we started to shift things. Instead of her waking up every morning, focused on how she was going to fix the number on the scale. We worked on really shifting her thoughts and her approach. So that started with understanding what I call the why, the reason for the constant snacking and the eating in her car, why, why that was happening and also why it becomes so hard to resist. We started to look for ways to take care of the things that were leading to the cravings and the urges to overeat. And we started to do it, and we had to do it in realistic ways, realistic ways that didn't require a lot of time. And that provided relief from the overload. So we really looked for the places that she could get maximum bang for her buck.

As she did this, she started to create these little spaces that helped her feel taken care of and even rewarded. We started to find tiny ways that she could build in more joy and less pressure. And also the whole way along here, we're tackling her perfectionism because a hallmark of deprivation thinking and a huge part of Maryanne's thinking was this all or nothing thinking it had to be perfect or it wasn't, it wasn't good. Marianne came into working with me, really goal focused. It was all about the 30 pounds and changing her eating, but that's a deprivation mindset. And here's the thing. Marianne didn't just need to reach her goal, which was to change her eating and, and feel like she was in control of it. Instead of it being in control of her, adding another pressure for goal was not going to be helpful to her.

Her, her life was already pressure full enough. We needed to create a way of doing this, that added more joy and not more stress to her life. That is a transformation approach. And remember what I told you about a train, a brain that is stuck in deprivation. It's so hard to accept this stuff. When I first talked with Marianne about shifting her approach in this way, she absolutely rolled her eyes and said, you know, I don't think this is possible for me when you are stuck in deprivation. It is almost impossible to see the possibility of another kinder, more compassionate approach. But, but, but, but that does not mean it doesn't exist. So I know you're wondering what happened to Marianne. What happened to her as she started to pay attention to what she needed and what was causing the sugar cravings and why food had the power that it did.

She did get more in touch with, uh, how miserable this cycle was making her. And, and she began to buy into more of the need to, to transform her life and to take better care of herself. And yes, she only had teeny tiny pockets of time to do that. But sometimes the act of just paying attention to what's important, just acknowledging that I'm tired, I'm exhausted. I need something here. That is, that is the first fundamental act of self-compassion. And sometimes that starts to make a difference. It didn't happen overnight, but it also didn't take forever. Marianne found ways to take care of herself. She found ways to respond to her stress. She found ways to have more compassion for herself, and guess what? Over time, those cravings for sugar, she didn't have to fight them anymore because they went away. She stops thinking about buying the candy when she was at the store and the weight came off, she didn't struggle to get the weight off.

The weight came off. Here's the thing about a real transformation approach though. What I will always remember is a conversation that I had with Maryanne, where she said, I got my spirit back. I thought you were going to just teach me how to control things and how to get my control back. But I got my spirit back. I feel at peace. I like my life. Now that is the difference between a deprivation and a transformation approach. In the next episode, I'm going to guide you through a process for switching your own brain from deprivation mode to one that's focused on creating transformation. But before we could do that, it's really important to get clear on the difference brains, like to keep doing what brains have always done. So if you are like most people used to thinking in deprivation mode, I want you to just become more aware of it. Notice the thoughts that come up, notice where it feels restrictive and difficult. Notice any thoughts or beliefs you have about feeling deprived. If you change your eating and even if it's difficult and it probably will be. I want you to start being curious about the process of transformation, ask yourself, what would it feel like to feel powerful and confident with food? That's all. Just ask the question. I'll talk with you soon.


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